Christina M. Currie: What’s in a word
August 22, 2008
I know now why Bill Cosby thought that the things kids say were worth a 30-minute time slot during prime time. Their innocence and the fact that they haven’t developed many filters between their brains and tongues is often amusing, sometimes embarrassing and almost always worth listening to.
But, I didn’t know how often they could be shocking.
Now I do. I constantly tell myself that I’ll never be surprised by something a child says, but darn if they don’t catch me off guard every single time.
A couple of weeks ago, 6-year-old Nikki casually (and a bit proudly) announced that one of her girlfriends “had a noodle in her penis.”
That’s a phrase to stun you silent.
And that shows you that you haven’t had near enough discussions about human anatomy.
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If I hadn’t known which friend Nikki was talking about, I would have been on the phone with social services. Luckily, I knew that particular friend had some extreme health issues as an infant and as a toddler and could ask, “do you mean ‘needle?'”
I was so glad she’d told me this and not, say, her first-grade class.
“And, Nikki, girls don’t have penises.”
“Oh, yeah,” she said, like she’d known that at some time, but had just forgotten.
I didn’t even know Nikki knew the word penis. She obviously didn’t know what it meant.
See, that’s the problem. In addition to saying anything that crosses their minds, kids will also use words they think they know the meaning of, but really don’t.
There’s a flip side, of course.
A few days ago, the girls heard someone use the “f” word.
As was appropriate, their eyes widened, they gasped and covered their mouths.
Nikki said, “did you hear that, Katie? She used the finger word.”
I had to laugh. The girls have learned that it’s not polite to point their middle finger at people, but only because it was “rude.” I didn’t know they knew the correlation between the middle finger and the sentiment it expresses.
They’re learning so fast. Faster than I can keep up with. And, sometimes faster than I want to know.
“Katie, look, look the dog’s penis is hanging out!”
At least she used the word correctly. The dog is a boy.
But still. Do they have to do that?